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  1. Default Los Angeles to Chicago Early January Needs Advice Please

    Hi all,

    I'm planning on taking a one way roadtrip from LA to Chicago the second week of January. I am allowing about 8 days for the trip total and I was hoping to make a few stops on the way and see the sights. I'm willing to take the southern route (66 or I40 through AZ, NM, TX, OK, MO etc.) and I have heard this is the preferred route during the winter however, I have been wanting to stop by some of the parks in eastern Utah (Monument Valley, Canyonlands, Arches) and see the Rockies and Denver.

    So I personally would prefer to take the Northern Route via I40 to Flagstaff and then take the 89, 160, 163 and 191 North to I 70 and take that across Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa.

    Is this northern route easily doable/ worth it in January Or should I just take the southern route? Any advice would be helpful. I’m particularly worried about driving over the Rockies and through Nebraska and Iowa this time of year.

    Thanks a lot!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default go for it

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The route you've outlined is certainly one you can do, and should do based on what you say you want to see.

    It certainly is possible that you'll see some snow, and in the worst case, you might end up seeing a delay for a day maybe even two. However, that is certainly also possible by taking I-40 since that route sees plenty of snow and ice too.

    8 days is a nice amount of time for this trip, but it will go by quickly with all of the things you want to see along the way. Keep watching the forecast, and if you've got a hard deadline to arrive at your destination, keep an extra day in reserve, just in case you hit a storm that is so severe that you need a day to let the plow crews catch up.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Preferred(?) Route

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There simply is no 'preferred route in winter' if by that you mean a route that you should take in preference to any other regardless. There is simply the route that will have the best weather during the time you'll be driving. That's the one you should be ready to take. But since there is no way to accurately know the weather you will be encountering sooner than a day or two before departure, you are best served by being ready to take one of a number of possible routes and only making a final choice when you get a meaningful forecast. Fortunately, there are at least two routes between Los Angeles and Chicago that are quite comparable in miles, but will usually be subject to quite different weather systems.

    The first is the route of the old Route 66 although that highway no longer exists. Today it has been replaced by I-40 to Oklahoma City, I-44 to St. Louis and I-55 to Chicago. Highlights of that route would include the Grand Canyon (although that involves a fair detour), Petrified Forest, Petroglyph National Monument, Cadillac Ranch, the Oklahoma City Memorial, and the Gateway Arch and Museum of Westward Expansion.

    The other main route would be I-15 up into Utah, I-70 across the Rockies to Denver, I-76 into Nebraska, and I-80 to Chicago. Highlights of that route would be Las Vegas, Arches National Park, the Rockies, the route of the old Oregon Trail along the Platte River, and the Amana Colonies.

    The route you mention kind of splits the difference and includes some of the best of both routes (e.g. Grand Canyon and Arches). But it does include some rather remote two lane highways through northeaster Arizona and eastern Utah. If the weather is good, it's a viable alternative, but if there is significant snow forecast for the areas of Arizona and Utah just mentioned, take an alternative.

    In general, the Interstates are the best maintained roads in the country, the last to shut down and the first to be plowed and reopened. And in general, northern and mountainous jurisdictions are better prepared to deal with snow than southern states and towns that see little of it and can't justify the cost of a significant investment in road clearing trucks, plows, salt, etc. So, although it's not the definitive answer you were probably hoping for, the best advice is to plan multiple routes, keep an eye on the weather, and decide late.


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